Monday, August 11, 2014

A Letter: From the Old Homeowner to the New Homeowner

Big things happened last week. I started this blog back in 2008 to chronicle our journey on raising our kids like our parents raised us - as farm kids. All along, part of the plan would be to sell our home in town, the one where we planned our wedding, began our life together and brought our new babies home from the hospital too.  The goal of course would be to build our new home in the middle of our young walnut orchard on our little piece of dirt in Orland, CA. We have the kids, bought the dirt and planted the orchard. Last week we took the next step in the process and we sold the house and moved. Who knew it would be so hard? Not because we loved that house but only because what that house represented - our family. I wanted the new homeowners to know what that house meant to us so I wrote them a letter.  The letter probably means more to me than it ever will to them but I did it anyway. Today I'm sharing it with all of you. ~mrs. c

August 8, 2014
Dear Mr. and Mrs. New Homeowner,

Congratulations on your new house! We are sure you are eager to make it home.
I’m pretty certain that leaving a note for the new homeowners from the old homeowners is more than likely rare. But knowing what I know about the house and the neighborhood, I felt it might helpful to have a glimpse of what it is at your Denali Drive house that could not be explained in a real estate listing. And frankly, I know I would personally enjoy such a head start on getting to know where I was moving too if I were in your position. So here goes.

We love Amber Grove and we are sure you will too. Where so often it seems these days community is missing, you are sure to find it here. People say hi as they walk down the street. Neighbors chat at the mailbox, and folks wave as they drive by. But what is at your Denali Drive house is what I really want you to know.
Being married to a farmer, it goes without saying that taking care of the yard was more enjoyable than it was work. Rather than try and guess what might be planted out there I wanted to give you a little heads up of what you are going find. Along the west fence, you have three of young cherry trees. The back fence offers an apricot tree and two peach trees and a grape vine that when cared for produces some sweet green grapes. The peach, apricot and cherry trees should produce their first crop next year. In the northwest corner there is a very productive Fuyu persimmon tree. You are sure to get a crop that will more than serve your taste buds and those of the birds too. These persimmons eat just like an apple and were really sweet last year.

Jake has very successfully grown tomatoes, corn, potatoes, onions, zucchini, squash, peppers, herbs and artichokes in the backyard. In fact, don’t be surprised if onions pop up along the east fence. I will guarantee that potatoes will pop-up in the flower bed running along the house closest to the master bedroom. To the left of the white arbor is a small patch of chives growing. And while we were never successful in an actual harvest, you should have asparagus pop up in between the persimmon and the redwood trees.
The maple tree will give you lots of shade in the summer and will provide you those beautifully colored leaves they are known for in the Fall. But don’t blink, last year it seemed like those leaves fell off all in one day! 

The palm tree was a gift from my parents and the redwood trees along the west fence started out as 12 inch saplings. I think you would agree they have come a long way. Also along the back fence, a really tall flowering plant will eventually pop-up.  Those are called Hollyhocks and are one of Jake’s favorite flowers.

The front yard also has a few special surprises in store. If you walk out the front door, the rose bush on the right is called Hot Cocoa and it will be a beast! Jake had a yellow lab a number of years ago and he sat right smack in the middle of that rose bush when it was newly planted. You would have thought that stress would have killed it. Not this rose bush. It grows stronger and taller each year, even after generous annual prunings. In the flower bed to the left of the front door, spring bulbs will pop up under the window. A beautiful Easter lily will bloom hopefully before Easter. Right now you will see a Calla Lilly taking shape. It has grown back now each year for the last five years even after Jake attempted to destroy it. It was not his favorite but I loved it. There are lilacs and daffodils in front of the windows and spring should bring you a variety of gorgeous Iris’ too.
The kitchen hosted many friends and family for our annual clam chowder feast in January. The window above the kitchen sink offers lots of afternoon sun and is a great place to grown a few herbs, a sun loving plant and will also brew the perfect jar of sun tea.

Inside the coat closet on the right wall you are going to find a switch. That switch will make turning on the Christmas lights a breeze. There is electric plug outside the front door up towards the eaves of the house in the entryway that is operated by that switch. There are already hooks all along the front of house that will make hanging lights really easy. And yes, many in the neighborhood will decorate right after Thanksgiving and lots of people will drive by during the holiday season.
So what about the neighbors? Jerry and Valerie Converse live to your East and are wonderful neighbors. We always let Valerie and Jerry know when we would be gone for an extended time and they were sure to watch for anything unusual and throw our paper to the front door so they didn't pile in the driveway. The Smiths live to your West and have two young children and the Monroe’s live directly across the street.

You should also know that Amber Grove is very popular at Halloween. Even though on average we handed out three-five Costco size bags of candy, it is a lot of fun to see the kids and their costumes out walking together with their families. In fact, we will probably bring our boys back to the neighborhood to trick-or-treat this October since we know our way around.
Lastly, if you ever wished ice cream could be delivered to your door, rest assured Schwan’s does deliver every other Tuesday. If you happen to be home, Ken is your driver and he is a really nice man. And if you like French fries, they make the best baked crinkle cut fries.

Baby Cecil's Nursery circa January 2012

We are really excited for you and know that while today it is a house, we are sure it will soon be easy to call it a home. Jake and I started our life together in this house and it will always hold some really fabulous memories for us. Like hosting our wedding rehearsal dinner in the backyard in 2008, decorating the first bedroom as a nursery before our oldest son was born in 2010, keeping a bountiful garden in the backyard each summer to share our love of farming and food with our two boys and too many birthday parties to even count. 
Dalton's 2nd Birthday in March of 2014.
We hope you too will create lots of memories at your Denali Drive house . I know we are rich with memories that are sure to last our lifetime and that of our boys too.

Wishing you all the best,
Jake, Colleen, Clayton and Dalton Cecil

So what's next? We are renting until we can build our new home. Stay tuned for more updates on the growing orchard, growing boys and what it takes to build a new house from the ground up. Thanks for reading!


  1. Nicely done. Love the tour of the place and I am sure they will too.

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